James Branch Cabell Library, 4th Floor Conference Room
February 19, 2010 2:00 - 3:00 pm
Jan Chlebowski, Leila Christenbury, Rosemary Farmer, Kimberle Jacobs, Roy McKelvey (chair), Karen Rader
Absent with notice
Gonzalo Aida, Corey Davis, Linda Hughes, Allen Lee, Ran Lee, Faye Prichard, Ann Wiesner
Mary Baechle, Brandon Dube, Worth Longest, Brenda Seago
Staff: John Duke, Jeanne Hammer, Teresa Knott, John Ulmschneider, Pam Fraga (recording secretary)
Guest: Jimmy Ghaphery, Head, Library Information Systems.
Review and approval of agenda
Mr. Ulmschneider asked if he could add a brief mention of the recent Black History Month event to the agenda before the demonstration. With this addition, the agenda was approved.
Review and approval of minutes from January 2010
The minutes were approved as presented.
Library hours during inclement weather
Mr. Ulmschneider explained that some challenges arise from the current inclement weather policy. The policy, implemented in 1999, closes library facilities whenever the University closes for a weather event. Since 1999, the University has become increasingly a residential campus, with thousands of students in University housing and thousands more living in very close proximity (within one-quarter mile) of the Monroe Park Campus. Residential students expect library facilities to be open during inclement weather events, just as dining halls and gym/recreational facilities are open. In addition, student deadlines generally are not affected by inclement weather events, particularly deadlines for papers and projects that are weeks or months ahead. The students expect to use the library during inclement weather closings in order to make progress in these projects. Mr. Ulmschneider said that the VCU Libraries needs to establish new policies and mechanisms to keep library facilities open for students during inclement weather without endangering students or the staff responsible for operating the facilities. The Committee’s discussion made the following points:
- The VCU Health System and the MCV Campus generally stay open, so roads and sidewalks in that area are cleared quickly and well.
- Students should be able to determine the exact status of each library (open or closed) immediately and easily without having to search for signs on the doors.
- Directing students to the VCU Libraries website for information on closings would be the best, most accurate source.
- Directing students to the VCU Libraries phone system is a good back up source.
- VCU Libraries plans to install electric, computer controlled “OPEN” signs which will also have the hours on them.
- The main VCU website sometimes is not clear about the status of each library; the text alert system does not give any detailed information.
Mr. Ulmschneider asked the Committee members to give this issue some more thought and to please forward to him any additional feedback they might have. He thanked them for the helpful discussion.
Expanding private giving to the VCU Libraries
Mr. Ulmschneider reported that given ongoing budget challenges, private giving is becoming more crucial to the financial stability of both VCU and the VCU Libraries. While the budget just released does not reflect additional reductions in higher education funding for Virginia public institutions, it still is a worst case scenario: overall funding since 2007-08 will decline by 26% by the end of the biennial budget period in 2011-12.
Private fund income through the Friends of the Library has not been strong, although the Friends have done a remarkable job in reaching out to the community for donations of valuable collections – the VCU Libraries leads the University in the appraised value of donations-in-kind, for example. The new VCU Libraries fund for student hiring has been a strong success as well: supporters recognize that a good job at the University can be as critical to student continuance in degree programs as financial aid.
The need to strengthen private fund income has led to a review of giving from active faculty. Mr. Ulmschneider reported that in the 1970s and 1980s, just after the establishment of the University, faculty were instrumental in growing the collections and endowments of the University’s libraries. It may be time to remind faculty of this proud legacy and encourage renewed giving from the active faculty to strengthen VCU’s library system. Committee discussion highlighted these points:
- It is possible to donate through payroll deduction, and this might be emphasized.
- There is no “staff” campaign, though such campaigns are common in higher education; the lack of a campaign makes it harder to present the VCU Libraries as a giving opportunity to staff and faculty.
- VCU Libraries cannot be a recipient of giving during the annual Combined Virginia Campaign (CVC), because it’s not a charity. Several members expressed frustration that faculty and staff could not donate to VCU this way.
- It may be possible for the VCU Libraries to establish a relationship with a properly designated 501 c 3 organization that could be part of the campaign, with donations to that organization directly supporting VCU Libraries. Mr. Ulmschneider will investigate this possibility.
- Some committee ideas about faculty and staff giving:
- If every faculty member donated $X (identified as the cost of one book), this might be a manageable amount to donate and an attractive giving idea
- Perhaps book plates would be in these “donated” books, though this might prove problematic in the execution.
- This idea could be amended to be $X would buy X number of hours of student employment.
- The idea of giving to VCU Libraries is more attractive to faculty than generic giving to the University and there should be an annual campaign, modeled after the Staff Senate Walk-A-Thon.
- The idea of a campaign to hire students would have more resonance with the faculty that simply generic giving.
- Faculty might be willing to give their time in the form of a silent auction in which they would then provide lectures or tours or in some way lend their expertise or personal interests to be “auctioned off”.
Reports and Discussion
Update on progress in constructing the Learning Commons - slides
Ms. Hammer reviewed the design of the new Learning Commons, which will be located on the 2nd floor of Cabell Library. She noted there will be a variety of seating types, including group study rooms, booths, soft seating and a multipurpose room in the center of the area, which will be available for student use when not being used as a classroom room. The current color scheme in the building will be modified and actual samples of materials will be available at the next meeting; the effect of color on the psychological aspect of studying has been taken into account and specific choices are being made with this concept in mind. Because of strong funding and support from the Office of the Provost, better materials can be employed; the new chairs and materials will help with sound baffling and will be selected in part for sound dampening ability.
Ms. Hammer reported that a committee has reviewed 13 responses to the RFP for moving library materials to the new library storage space at 500 Academic Centre. The relocation of materials is an essential step in freeing space for the new Learning.
Strategic planning for VCU Libraries, including diversity planning
Mr. Ulmschneider asked if this item could be deferred to the next meeting in the name of time, to allow for the demonstration today. It was agreed to do this.
Mr. Ulmschneider briefly reported that the Black History Month even held February 9th had been a solid success. Over 175 turned out for the event despite particularly bad weather that evening that held down attendance from off campus.
Demo: RSS feeds for new titles - online demo
Mr. Ghaphery gave a brief demonstration of how to search the “New Titles” tab on the VCU Libraries website and how, using this tab, one could then sign up for RSS feeds on areas of interest. (RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication – automated electronic notification of new materials in this case.) He explained that one of the challenges was determining what was “new”: in this case, “new” means items new to the library collections at VCU, although the item might itself be old. RSS is not available for journals articles, but new journal and database subscriptions are reported.
The meeting adjourned at 3:20 pm. The next meeting will be March 19th at Tompkins-McCaw Library at 2:00 pm.